Stephen Logan

What is Black Hat SEO?

6th Oct 2009 SEO Blog 1 minute to read

What is Black Hat SEO?

This is a term used by many industry professionals to describe anything that is deemed to be against the rules of search engines or is otherwise ethically questionable.

Black Hat SEO has been in operation for almost as long as search engines have been ranking sites. Modern algorithms make it far more difficult for websites to achieve a misrepresentative position as a result of underhanded SEO work. However, that wasn’t always the case.

In the past keyword stuffing, where you use the same key terms and phrases in excessive quantities, would have provided sites with a near instant boost in rankings. For those who recognised that it compromised the quality of their on-page copy, you could always implement some hidden text. As the name suggests, this meant using text that was the same colour as the background (quite often white), to stuff as many keywords on a page without being seen by visitors. Cunning, but now no longer acceptable.

Ultimately Black Hat SEO is all about improving rankings at any cost. Due to its unethical nature, search engines treat it with justifiable disdain. So if you’re caught misrepresenting the content or purpose of your site, trying to rack up a few too many keywords or generally trying to hoodwink Google, you can expect to be punished.

Punishments range from a drop in rankings to being excluded entirely. Either way, the outcome is always detrimental to the site and will only serve to achieve the very opposite of what you were hoping for from the outset.

Not only could it have a disastrous effect on your search engine rankings, but it can really impact upon the quality of content on your site. If it is clear that you are repeatedly using the same word or phrase on any single page, visitors will justifiably become more wary. Copy needs to be free-flowing and natural, not truncated and riddled with repetition.

Black Hat SEO should be avoided at all costs. Some may see it as a short-cut to better rankings, but in truth these techniques will only serve to speed your website’s demise.

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